Wellington Bell Ringing

Wellington Towers

Wellington Cathedral

Wellington Cathedral has 14 bells, ranging in size from Little James(4 cwt) to the People's Bell(27.75 cwt). A sharp treble and flat 6th allow us to ring a light six (5 cwts) and a light eight and ten (10 cwts). The bell tower was completed and bells were installed by Taylors of Loughborough in 1984. Seven of the current bells were already 100 years old at that stage, being recycled from the demolished St Edmund's Church in Northampton, England. One bell from St Edmund's was of poor quality and was melted down and the metal included in the seven new bells. An article in the Ringing World, No. 5627 March 1, 2019, describes some of the history surrounding the removal of the bells from St Edmund's.

Wellington Cathedral is fortunate to have a lift from the Ground Floor to the Ringing Chamber. The Ringing Chamber is spacious enough to have ample seating and house the John David Mini Ring.

There are magnetic sensors on twelve of the bells, connected through a Bagley box to a computer in the Ringing Chamber. These allow us to have simulator ringing up to twelve bells and avoid annoying the neighbours with open ringing.

Each year we hold the Wellington Ringing Festival at New Zealand Labour weekend. We regularly welcome ringers from Australia and New Zealand, and occasionally from England and USA. As well as plenty of general ringing for all levels of expertise, we have a dinner and several quarter peal attempts. All ringers are welcome. For more details see Ringing Festival.

The John David Mini Ring

The John David Ring was bought from Matthew Higby & Co in 2015 by the Wellington Ringers. Donations towards the cost were made by many ringers, by the Australia and New Zealand Association of Bellringers (ANZAB), and by Wellington City Council. The bells were cast by Mark Prior and tuned and hung by Matthew Higby. The tenor weighs 9lb 10oz, with a note of F#.

The ring is named after two members of the Caldwell family, four generations of which have been ringers in New Zealand. David Caldwell was a ringer at St Matthew's, Auckland and Hamilton Cathedral. His son, John, learnt to ring. John died at a relatively young age. John's son, Andrew learnt to ring at Wellington Cathedral, becoming the fourth generation of Caldwells to ring.

Initially the Ring was a six. Each bell is named after a donor. The treble and tenor are named Gill and Gerald respectively, after Gill and Gerald McIlhone. The second is named Rei, after Rei Ngatai. The third is named Jarman, after Chris Jarman. The fourth is named Barrett, after Terry Barrett. Gerald, Rei, Chris and Terry are Wellington ringers. Rei is the first Maori to ring a peal. The fifth is named Pleasance, after Pleasance Purser, who was Ringing Master at the Cathedral for 25 years.

In December 2015 two additional bells were ordered from Matthew Higby to augment the Ring to an eight. Delivery was somewhat protracted and the Ring finally became an eight in September 2017. Generous donations made the augmentation possible, particularly one from Lian von Wantoch. Lian was an American diplomat based at the American Embassy in Wellington for a period. She is a ringer and and donated money for the bells as thanks for her ringing welcome in Wellington. The new second is named Harvey, after her father Harvey von Wantoch. The new treble is named Nathan, after the grandson of Derek and Mary Williams, who are Wellington ringers.

The mini ring is used for demonstrating and teaching ringing. It is regularly used for quarter peals (in 2018 it was the leading tower in the world for number of quarter peals).

Old St Paul's

There are 5 bells at Old St Paul's, the tenor being nearly the same weight as the lightest bell at the Cathedral (4 cwts). It is a ground floor ring. There is no regular practice at Old St Paul's. We try and arrange for visitors to the Cathedral to ring at Old St Paul's, if they are visiting on a Sunday. We ring here for about twenty five weddings each year, most of which take place in the summer.
An informative history of the OSP bells can be found here.

St Peter's on Willis, Wellington

There is a ring of 8 bells, cast in 1879 by John Warner & Sons, installed at St Peter's (see Dove's Guide for details). They are chimed only; full circle ringing is not possible. More history of the bells can be found on St Peter's web site. A restoration proposal is being pursued to get four of the bells ringing.